Mouths Water As Frying Pans Sizzle With Oysters Fresh From Willapa Bay At Restaurants All Along Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula

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With highly prized Willapa Bay oysters at their culinary best, restaurants and diners on the Long Beach Peninsula take full advantage of prime oyster season (now through April). Preparations include pan fried, raw on the half shell, in a hang town fry, baked, broiled and beyond.

Willapa Bay oysters, Pickled Fish, Long Beach, Washington, coast restaurant

Sea Bean Butter Baked Oysters from Willapa Bay, courtesy of Pickled Fish restaurant, Long Beach, WA

Delicious!” exclaimed Andi Day, Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. “While we enjoy Willapa Bay oysters year round, the flavor, texture and plumpness are best right now.

Fresher than fresh, oysters just harvested from Willapa Bay make their way to the plates of happy diners on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula. According to chefs all along this 28-mile spit of sand bordered by the Pacific Ocean, Columbia River and pristine Willapa Bay, now through mid-April is the best time to savor these ever-delectable mollusks.

“Delicious!” exclaimed Andi Day, regional native and executive director, Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau. “While we enjoy Willapa Bay oysters year round, the flavor, texture and plumpness are best right now.”

Day adds that pan-fried oysters are by far her favorite. She enjoys comparing preparations at the fine restaurants dotting the Long Beach Peninsula. Among these sought out eateries are Jimella & Nanci’s Market Café, The Depot Restaurant, Pelicano Restaurant, 42nd Street Café & Bistro, The Shelburne Restaurant and Pub, and, new to the scene, Pickled Fish, atop of the Adrift Hotel. Hang town fry – oysters with eggs, bacon, onion and cheese – is another of Day’s favorites and one she highly recommends for a hearty breakfast, prior to heading out to dig clams, hike to a lighthouse, or walk the beach.

With one out of four oysters served in the U.S. harvested from of Willapa Bay, these oysters are legendary. Many of the bay’s carefully cultivated oyster beds have been farmed for multiple generations and have been reclaimed after near depletion due to enormous demand and over harvesting of native oysters during the California gold rush.

Today, big city chefs are drawn to this region for proximity to these prized oysters, as well as Columbia River sturgeon and salmon, albacore tuna, halibut, Dungeness crab, razor clams, butter clams, and more. Chefs are continually inspired both from the rich food offerings (including foraged mushrooms), as well as the raw and wild nature of this watery destination at the edge of the continent.

During prime oyster season visitors can find a variety of oyster specials and events.

On Saturday, January 26, the Shelburne Restaurant is offering Chef Beau’s Oyster Dinner, with oysters prepared three ways – in a saffron bisque, grilled with mango pico de gallo, and in a Southern-style gumbo.

Pioneers of Northwest cuisine and former chefs/owners of The Ark, Jimella Lucas and Nanci Main, Jimella &Nanci’s Market Café, are offering a three-course “Oyster Frenzy” dinner on Thursday nights.

Seasonal menus are highlighted by items such as pan-fried oysters with salsa rossa at Pelicano or with roasted garlic aioli at The Depot. The Depot (occupying an historic train depot in Seaview) also serves a piping-hot, buttery, garlicky oyster ‘scargot.

Pickled Fish lists oyster sliders, raw oysters on the half shell and chicken fried oysters with a smoked lemon aioli among its menu items and includes specials of grilled oysters, sea bean butter baked oysters and oysters in the nude with a Walla Walla onion wash.

At 42nd Street Café, Willapa Bay oysters are offered all day long, in hang town fry for breakfast and pan-fried for lunch and dinner. Oysters prepared in many ways are also offered at more casual restaurants and seafood shops, such as OleBob’s in Ilwaco.

About the Long Beach Peninsula:
Located on the southwestern-most coast of Washington State, the Long Beach Peninsula provides a mouthwatering mélange of restaurants, which share a devotion to the region’s untold natural ingredients. Acres upon acres of cranberry bogs and twenty varieties of edible mushrooms thrive under its ideal coastal conditions of moist sea air, fertile sandy soil and protective evergreens. Surrounded on three sides by ocean, river and bay, the Peninsula has an abundance of fresh-caught fish and seafood readily available, giving diners an unmatched opportunity to dine at the source.

With its mix of restaurants, ocean view lodging, unique museums and attractions, lighthouses, fine art galleries, meandering trails, birding spots, and, above all, its long, wide, windswept beach, the Long Beach Peninsula continues to be one of the Northwest’s most enjoyable and refreshing beach getaways. For lodging, dining and other destination information, please call the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau at 800-451-2542 or access

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Carol Zahorsky

Andi Day
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